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    Smart home guide for beginners: How to get started.

    October 04, 2022 by emily.bailey

    Tuesday, October 4, 2022

    Smart home guide | Schlage

    A smart home can make your life more secure, more comfortable, and more fun. Here's everything you need to know to set up your home automation system.

     

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    What is a smart home? It’s your home, but more intelligent. A smart home gives you the power to control door locks, lights, thermostats and other home features – from anywhere in the world. And you probably already have the control panel – your smartphone or tablet. While the technology may seem complicated, the goal is to make your life more convenient, safe, and enjoyable.

     

    Studies show that smart home technology is growing in popularity among all generations of Americans. However, getting started can feel overwhelming if you're still used to controlling switches and knobs manually rather than through a phone or computer. Before you enjoy automated lights, locks that unlock with the tap of your watch or phone and the other benefits of having a smart home, you'll need a primer on the basics.

    Young family sitting around table looking at smart home devices.

    How to control your smart home system

    One of the most important decisions you'll make is choosing how you will control your devices. Smart home technology can operate wirelessly through protocols like Bluetooth, Zigbee, NFC, Wi-Fi, Z-wave, Li-Fi, and 5G. To simplify things, we've broken it down into three main ways you can control smart home devices.

     

    Cloud software platforms: The most popular cloud service in this category is If This Then That (IFTTT), which you can use via a downloadable app. IFTTT is an easy-to-use platform that connects apps, devices, and services from different developers. The program does this through Applets, which connects two or more apps or devices together.

     

    Virtual assistants: This category includes popular speech-enabled smart speakers such as Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri with Apple HomeKit. These cloud-connected ecosystems let you program commands or routines that will control smart home devices. All three developers are constantly adding updates to more intuitive and compatible with more products.

     

    Smart home hubs: Using a hub as your smart home controller is a good idea if you don't want to have to rely on the cloud to manage your devices. Hubs such as SmartThings and Wink connect to devices locally and offer more advanced automations. As with the other control options, you'll want to make sure that your hub is compatible with all the smart devices you want to use in your home.

     

    Which smart home ecosystem should you choose? If you’re starting fresh, pick your system based on your smart home goals and then select products accordingly. Think about which smart devices and automation solutions you need — or want — for your home setup. Remember, the key to having the best smart home is to unify all your devices.

    Consider your lighting

    One of the most popular features of smart homes is automated lighting. With a controller, you can manage individual or groups of lights — scheduling when and how much they should turn on or off. Imagine having your lights automatically dim when you go to sleep and ease back on when they detect you moving through the kitchen for a midnight snack. These features can also determine the shade of light, and they can be automated to optimize energy efficiency.

     

    Many smart lighting systems work great over Wi-Fi, so you don't need a hub. You'll control them directly using a mobile app, but they're also compatible with Amazon Echo and Google Home if you want to start building up a more elaborate system. However, you'll need to install smart home switches to control all the existing lighting in your home. A DIY enthusiast can handle a smart home switch installation in under an hour.

    Never forget to lock the door

    Do you ever ask yourself, "Did I remember to lock up?" What about, "Where are my keys?" You can kiss both uneasy feelings goodbye when your home is equipped with smart locks. These keyless door locks connect to your Wi-Fi, which means you can lock them remotely with your phone.

     

    Schlage's line of Smart Deadbolts is compatible with a wide range of voice assistants, hubs, and access management systems like Ring. With some easy programming, you can set these devices to automatically lock a few minutes after being opened or at night. Schlage smart locks are powered by batteries and offer a touchscreen or keypad for access codes — features that prevent any problems if there's an internet or power outage.

    Dad holding front door open for daughter with Homekit smart lock on the door.

    Think about home security

    Security is one of the most popular reasons to start integrating smart home technology. In addition to locks, smart security systems can include smart door and window sensors, motion detectors, and surveillance cameras. You can receive alerts on your phone or computer if any of these devices is triggered, and you can even view live footage from your cameras.

     

    Some security systems also include features like two-way audio, which allows you to communicate with someone at your door through your phone. Another feature to consider is geofencing, a GPS-enabled virtual perimeter that uses your phone's location to automatically arm or disarm your system when you leave or return home.

    Control your home's temperature

    Modern smart thermostats offer more than just the ability to control your home's temperature remotely. Of course, these devices let you turn on the heat before you get home from work or cool down your house from the comfort of your bed. But many smart models can work with other devices to make adjustments, and they feature remote room sensors to ensure a uniform temperature.

     

    Most impressively, smart thermostats can "learn" your household's behavior and make schedule recommendations that save the most energy. Even a few small temperature adjustments can have an effect on your utility bill. According to Google Nest, smart thermostats save homeowners an average of 15% on cooling costs. When shopping for a smart thermostat, you'll want to consider features like ease of use, compatibility with other devices, and energy-saving functions.

    Enhance your audio and video setup

    Smart home technology is also about making your life more fun. When you sync your home theaters, TVs, and speakers into a smart home system, you'll enjoy more convenience and customization. You'll be able to use your smartphone or controller to play music in specific rooms, raise volume levels, and select playlists. Your controller will essentially consolidate all your remotes, so you can manage everything from Bluetooth speakers to record players as long as they're synced.

     

    The key to optimizing your smart home is to allow devices to communicate with each other. For home entertainment, this could mean automating custom lighting when you press "Play" on a movie. Do you have a music listening routine? Schedule a playlist to turn on at a certain time or when you flip a smart switch.

    FAQ About Smart Home Setup

    Do you need a pro to install smart home devices?

    Nope! While it's true that some smart devices can be tricky to install, there are plenty of devices that are designed for easy DIY installation. However, professionals are available if you want expert help to create a complete smart home system from the start.

    What happens when the power goes out?

    If you lose power, some of your smart home devices with battery backups will continue to work but without remote access and automation. This includes devices such as smart locks, smoke detectors, and security cameras. However, other devices such as voice assistants will stop working or become "dumb." You may want to invest in an uninterrupted power supply (UPS) or generator to keep your home's power running in the event of an extended outage.

    Which smart home technology should you start with?

    If you're looking to ease into smart home technology, start with a device that does not require a centralized hub. Most smart lighting systems and security locks offer direct control options through a mobile app. By starting without a hub, it's often easier to learn the basics of smart capabilities.

    While there is a slight learning curve to smart home setup, the rewards are well worth the effort. With a little time and patience, you'll be able to create a home that's more convenient, efficient, and secure. Once you finish your basic setup, be sure to check out these clever smart home tricks from the Schlage blog.

     

    How to choose the best smart lock to protect your home.

    September 20, 2022 by emily.bailey

    Tuesday, September 20, 2022

    Secure Schlage smart lock | Schlage

    Here are some things to consider when choosing the best smart lock for your home.

     

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    Technology moves fast, and smart homes are getting more and more advanced by the day. Smart home ecosystems can be intricate or easy, depending on how tech-savvy you are and which devices you need in your space. Regardless of what you prefer, Schlage smart locks are compatible with multiple smart home devices and ecosystems for your best hands-free comfort and protection. Here are some things to consider when choosing the best smart lock for your home.
    Woman leaving home to walk dog after locking front door with Schlage smart lock.

    Enhance your smart home

    What smart devices are already in your home? Which smart features are your favorite? If you’re already using automated smart home devices but unsure of which door lock is best for your system, Schlage is a smart bet. Before purchasing a new smart device, think of the smart ecosystem already in your home and its compatible brands. Schlage works with Apple HomeKit, Google Assistant and Alexa, making it a trusted partner in most smart home automations and advancements.

    Identify security features

    When choosing a smart lock to protect and secure your home, look for extra security features. Some Schlage smart locks feature an audible built-in alarm that is triggered by tampering or attempted forced entry. We always recommend exterior door hardware with its own security protection, but more importantly, think of your home’s location and any existing security measures. What smart devices or features will bring your peace of mind full circle?

     

    Schlage locks offer customizable auto-lock technology, so you’ll know your door is locked, even when you’re away. You can choose to program your smart deadbolt to automatically lock behind you, setting the timing for anywhere from 30 seconds to 4 minutes. This makes your home safer and gives you peace of mind.

    Consider ease of access

    You have a variety of secure options for keyless entry and sharing access with guests. Choose to give access seamlessly through the Schlage home app on your smartphone with virtual keys. Or, if you prefer not to use your smart phone, there is always the option of granting unique access codes for the touchscreen keypad. Before choosing a smart lock for your home, know the difference between Schlage smart locks and the features to best accommodate your household.

    Discover remote capabilities

    Locking and unlocking your door with a smartphone adds major convenience to your life, especially when you can do it from anywhere. A smart lock can provide peace of mind with the ability to check the status of your lock at any time, from any place. Be sure to know the remote access capabilities of a smart lock and how to integrate it in your home and lifestyle before purchasing. Keep in mind, some smart locks need an extra hub to enable communication with your phone via WiFi and integrate with other smart devices. Simplify by choosing a lock with built-in WiFi, such as the Schlage Encode Smart WiFi Deadbolt or Schlage Encode Plus™ Smart WiFi Deadbolt.

    Know the smart lock's battery life

    Before installing a new smart lock, learn what to expect from it—about how long will the batteries last? Do you need a Bluetooth or Z-Wave compatible device to match your preferred smart home system? How may the deadbolt’s technology and amount of use affect its battery life? These are all important things to consider, but the most important thing is to look for locks with clear low battery warnings.

     

    With Schlage, you can check the status of your battery at any time through the Schlage home app. Additionally, you will automatically be warned of a low battery through the lock’s touchscreen keypad long before your battery fails. If you’re upgrading your smart lock, we recommend the Schlage Encode Plus™ Smart WiFi Deadbolt—our newest, most advanced smart lock, powered by AA batteries and WiFi. No matter which smart lock you choose for your home, count on our products to warn you of low battery weeks before losing power. And if your [digital key] device dies or you don’t change the battery to your lock in time, all our locks come with a backup mechanical key. With Schlage, you'll never need to worry about locking yourself out of the house again.

    Trust before you buy

    For the most secure locks on the market, let the BHMA residential grading system speak for itself. BHMA is a board of industry experts who grade the performance of residential door hardware on Security, Durability and Finish. A grade of ‘C’ is good, ‘B’ is better, and ‘A’ is best; ‘AAA’ is the best grade possible in all three categories. The Schlage Encode Plus™ Smart WiFi Deadbolt and Schlage ConnectTM Touchscreen deadbolt with alarm were graded AAA by the BHMA and backed by Schlage’s product warranty.

     

    It’s best to choose a lock supported by its manufacturer with a generous warranty like Schlage. We offer customers a limited lifetime mechanical and finish warranty and a limited three-year electronics warranty to the original user. Other manufacturers’ warranty terms can be found on their product packaging or website.

     

    If you value quality craftsmanship that is meant to last, choose a smart lock (and any other smart home device) manufactured by a brand with a tried and true legacy. For more information on our smart lock offerings and a look at which smart home ecosystems our locks are compatible with, visit schlage.com.

     

    5 ways living smart can save you and your home energy.

    July 20, 2022 by emily.bailey

    Wednesday, July 20, 2022

    Energy savings

    With these tips, you can cash in on smart home technology for energy savings and beat the prices you’ve paid for electricity. This Earth-friendly approach to living is a win-win for you, your home and the environment.

     

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    Like many homeowners, you may be searching for creative ways to be more frugal with utility spending. With smart home devices, you can make your house more energy efficient, lower your energy bill, and make life a bit easier with hands-free voice control. With these tips, you can cash in on smart home technology for energy savings and beat the prices you’ve paid for electricity. This Earth-friendly approach to living is a win-win for you, your home and the environment.
    Man cooking in kitchen while using Alexa smart speaker.

    Turn down the thermostat before leaving home

    Heating and cooling your house require the most energy at any given time. A programmable or smart thermostat makes it easier to adjust your indoor climate to weather changes or who is at home and save on electric bills. Energy.gov estimates turning down your thermostat by 7 to 10 degrees for eight hours a day could save you up to 10 percent annually on heating and cooling costs. Before you leave for the office or a family outing, turn down your thermostat for a lower energy bill.

     

    Don’t want to come home to a cold or hot house? With a smart thermostat, start warming or cooling your home at the push of a smartphone button before you even leave the office. If you’re living even smarter, program your thermostat to regularly adjust automatically.

    Light the way to smart living and saving money

    Smart home systems often feature voice assistance for actions like controlling your lights hands-free. This helps ensure your lights turn on and off at your command, whether triggered by a special routine phrase or only sometimes. When you limit usage in your home, you notice how much energy may have been wasted before you were living smart.

     

    Saving money on electricity goes way beyond simple voice commands or home automation. Try installing light sensors to turn your lamps on only when someone is in the room. Similarly, you may also add geo-fencing, which automatically turns lights on and off based on where a connected smartphone is.

    Kitchen appliances can be smart, too

    Some smart ovens are faster to preheat than traditional models. Program the cooking process based on what you’re making and even monitor your dish’s progress using built-in sensors. All of these features can translate to less wasted energy.

     

    If you think a refrigerator doesn’t need to be smart, think again. On the most basic level, making sure the door closes properly helps to conserve energy. A fridge that notifies you if its door is open also saves you money. So does the ability to see inside the refrigerator without opening the door. A refrigerator that automatically knows when to reduce its energy consumption during the power grid’s peak hours while still keeping your frozen foods frozen, yes, saves you money.

     

    But what about conserving energy of a different kind? Some smart features or appliances might not reduce your financial expenses quite so obviously, but if they make your life easier, that seems like pretty good savings to us.

    Smart locks help you save money, energy and time

    Smart locks like the Schlage Encode Plus™ Smart WiFi Deadbolt and Schlage Connect™ Smart Deadbolt make everyday life more convenient, enabling you to share access codes with family, friends, handymen, dogwalkers and others you may want to grant temporary access. No more keeping track of spare keys. No more rushing home from work to let someone in—just do it from a compatible app on your smartphone.

     

    When you’re ready to add more convenience, make your smart lock part of a home automation sequence. Try setting up a Welcome Home routine, for example. When you unlock your door, the lights turn on and your thermostat goes up. Or maybe you’re leaning toward a Goodnight routine that locks your doors and powers down electronics while you relax in bed.

     

    You never have to wonder if you locked a door when you can check its status remotely from your smartphone. And when you trust in Schlage, you can be confident in the quality of your door locks. All of our smart deadbolts earned the highest marks from BHMA, so you know your home is safe and that your lock will continue to function correctly throughout its lifespan. Invest in hardware that stands up to the elements over time without losing its style.

    Robotic vacuums clean for you

    Make it a clean sweep of convenience with a robotic vacuum. Many can now be scheduled to run using smartphone apps and voice control. There’s even one that will take photos and videos when it senses movement in the room. Consumer Reports cautions that these vacuums don’t have the same suction power as a standard upright vacuum and their effectiveness depends on your type of flooring, but they can surely help with everyday cleaning maintenance.

     

    Adding home automation routines could be your next best solution for going green and saving the most money on electricity. To be even more energy efficient, sync your smart speakers, refrigerator and all other IoT devices. Find how Schlage can bring more simplicity to your life at Schlage.com or on Twitter and Facebook. Trust your home to Schlage.

     

    5 HomeKit-compatible devices you’ll want for your smart home.

    July 15, 2022 by emily.bailey

    Friday, July 15, 2022

    HomeKit door lock

    Learn how Apple HomeKit can help deliver the smart home experience you want with different combinations of smart devices.

     

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    A fully integrated smart home takes time to plan and put into effect, especially if you’re doing it yourself. For iOS-friendly homeowners and families, Apple HomeKit at least makes it easy to sync your preferred smart devices for more advanced home security and more. Read on to learn how Apple HomeKit can help deliver the smart home experience you want with different combinations of smart devices.
    Dad wearing Apple watch, holding front door open for daughter with HomeKit door lock.

    1. Schlage Encode Plus™ Smart WiFi Deadbolt

    Home automation abilities are available through Apple HomeKit when paired with a compatible smart home hub. Enjoy the full function of Schlage Encode Plus™ Smart locks by pairing with the Schlage Home app. Then link to the Apple Home app and pair with Apple HomeKit.

     

    Use your mobile iOS devices and Apple home keys to unlock Schlage Encode Plus™ deadbolts with a tap—no key required. Digitally activate the home keys feature via the Apple Home app, then in the iPhone Wallet app on an iPhone XS or newer (running iOS 15 and above). Apple Watch Series 4 or newer (with watchOS 8 ability) is also compatible. With Schlage Encode Plus™ and Apple HomeKit, users get even more seamless home security like auto-lock features and remote control via smartphone. Even when you’re away, access Apple HomePod or Apple TV to control your connected HomeKit door lock.

    2. Apple HomePod Mini for voice control

    Google Home and Amazon Alexa are commendable smart home voice assistants, but Apple HomePod mini [connected with HomeKit] enables a more unified system for voice commands to do many things at once. Use Siri for hands-free voice control and a more seamless smart home experience. Homeowners get more convenience with Apple HomePod mini when Apple HomeKit is used, like triggering smart home scenes and accessing other HomeKit devices remotely.

     

    Apple HomePod mini acts as a speaker, voice assistant and controller for your smart home system. Tell Siri to set multiple timers, play a certain Apple Music playlist, pause your TV, find your lost Apple device and more. Make your tech-forward lifestyle more seamless with full integrations like Apple HomePod mini and HomeKit.

    3. Leviton lighting control

    Leviton Decora Smart® Wi-Fi® lighting control is also directly compatible with Apple HomeKit. With this integration, Leviton can respond to your voice and adjust the lighting of your home as you speak to your HomePod or use your Apple Home app. Use the Apple Home app to set up automation that adjusts your lights as you lock and unlock the door. This automation feature helps many homeowners save on electric bills as they advance their smart home functions. Customize the automation of your home for better security and convenience—set the mood the moment you walk indoors with Apple HomeKit and Leviton lighting control.

    4. Logitech circle view doorbell

    See who is at your door before or without opening it. Logitech Circle View Doorbell is Apple HomeKit-enabled with facial recognition for more secure home access. HomeKit allows your mobile iOS devices to get notifications and make announcements when someone is at the door.

     

    Enjoy head-to-toe high-definition viewing thanks to Logitech’s TrueView™ video technology, including color night vision. Synchronize and better secure your smart home with Logitech Circle View Doorbell and Apple HomeKit. Your peace of mind is worth the investment for a fully functional and integrated smart home.

    5. Honeywell thermostat

    The Honeywell Lyric T5 Wi-Fi thermostat is compatible with Apple HomeKit for an even more integrated smart home system. Through Apple HomeKit, Honeywell knows exactly when you want to change the temperature of your home. Use a voice command to Siri, Google or Alexa or set an automated routine for hands-free convenience with Honeywell.

     

    Apple HomeKit is quickly becoming a favorite in smart homes and offices. Have questions or need help pairing your Schlage smart lock with another smart home device? Visit schlage.com for more information and assistance.

     

    3 reasons to get a Schlage smart lock before you go on vacation.

    July 06, 2022 by emily.bailey

    Wednesday, July 6, 2022

    Summer vacation planning

    Schlage smart locks might not be at the top of your list for things to purchase before going on vacation, but here are three reasons why they should.

     

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    It’s time to pack your bags, hit the road and let loose for a bit. You’re going to need a new swimsuit, some snacks for your road trip and a new book to download. And don’t forget a smart lock. Schlage smart locks might not be at the top of your list for things to purchase before going on vacation, but here are three reasons why they should.
    Woman planning summer vacation.

    Let the right people in while you're away

    “I thought locks were meant to keep people out?” That’s true. But they’re equally important for letting the right people in. When you’re on vacation, it’s about granting access to the trusted individuals who are going to keep your home and belongings safe and alive.

     

    We often talk about creating unique access codes to house sitters or those coming to take care of pets and plants. That hasn’t changed. When you give them their own code, there are no keys to exchange (or lose), so not only can they get in and out easily, but you also have the peace of mind that your house remains secure. For extra reassurance, you can use the Schlage Home® app with some of our smart locks, which then lets you see an activity log of which codes were used and when. That means you know if the neighbor remembered to stop by and feed the cat.

     

    Maybe you don’t need someone to check up on things while you’re away. You decided to kennel the dog and you don’t own plants. Accidents do happen, though. In the unfortunate event that something does go wrong at the house – a pipe bursts, there are strange sounds coming from inside, there appears to be storm damage – and you want a neighbor to check on things, will they be able to get in? With a smart lock, the answer is yes. You can either create a code through the app and send it to them, or simply tap the unlock button in the app when you know they’re on the porch. Then, when they’re done making sure everything is okay, simply check through the app that the door locked behind them and you’re back to your holiday.

     

    Here’s one more scenario. That package you ordered before you left town? It finally came, but now it’s sitting unattended by your door. The meal subscription you forgot to put on hold? The food has been delivered and is getting funky on your porch. Instead of leaving these deliveries for porch pirates to swipe raccoons to scavenge, you can ask your neighbor to take them inside. It’s the same as above – give them a code or unlock the door remotely for them.

    Relax with activity notifications

    When you go on vacation, we want to disconnect from everyday life and relax. Constantly watching your home security can make it difficult to take the mental break you need. With a smart lock and compatible apps and devices, you can do just that.

     

    At the most basic level, you can choose to receive notifications to your phone when certain events happen at your door. For example, if you have the Schlage Encode Plus™ Smart WiFi Deadbolt, Schlage Encode™ Smart WiFi Deadbolt or Schlage Sense® Smart Deadbolt, you can pair it with the Schlage Home app. Then, when a certain code is used or an impact or other disturbance is detected at the door, you’ll receive a push notification to your phone, letting you know. There’s no need to continuously watch a camera feed or scroll through an activity log. The information you need to know can be put directly in the palm of your hand.

     

    If you’re looking for something a bit more sophisticated, you can pair your smart lock with other compatible security devices. The Schlage Encode lock works with Ring Video Doorbell. Did you receive a notification that someone was at the door? You can actually see who’s there, talk to them and, if you want, unlock the door for them. This can be nice for when that neighbor stops by with an unexpected delivery.

     

    When you trust your home to Schlage, you need to be able to trust it all the time, whether you’re in the living room, at the grocery store or halfway around the world. Because Schlage smart locks are battery operated, there’s no risk of the deadbolt not working simply because the power went out. It will continue to do its job – keeping intruders out and letting dog sitters in – even if a summer storm causes a blackout.

    Have a great time

    Some people like to wing it on vacation, not booking hotels or ignoring the itinerary (if they even made one). There’s a certain amount of freedom and adventure that comes from not sticking to a schedule. When it comes to home security, though, planning is all-important. Choose the smart lock settings that are going to help protect your home the best.

     

    • When creating access codes for someone watching the house, pets and plants, consider setting them on a schedule. If you know you’ll be super busy with last-minute to-dos before you leave on Friday, create the code and send it to them earlier in the week, but schedule it to remain inactive until they need it. You can also set the code to expire when you get home on Wednesday, no need to remember to manually deactivate it.

    • While you’re in the app creating codes, review your settings. Are there notifications you want to turn on while you’re away?

    • Enable vacation mode. With the Schlage Connect® Smart Deadbolt or our Keypad Deadbolt, you can turn on vacation mode when you leave to temporarily deactivates all codes. In this mode, even when a correct code is entered at the touchscreen or keypad, the door will not unlock. When you return, you can disable vacation mode by entering your six-digit programming code. Some homeowners appreciate this feature when they know no one should be entering the house while they’re gone. They can pause the codes without having to re-create them from scratch when they come back. It’s just another quick and convenient way to manage your home’s security.

      Use this video tutorial to help put your Schlage Connect lock in vacation mode.

     

    Not sure which Schlage smart lock is right for you and your home? Use our Smart Lock Selector to find the one that best fits your needs. There’s also more on how to get the most from your locks and improve your home security at the Schlage blog. You especially won’t want to miss our list of smart devices to help you stay safe on vacation.

     

    Home security steps you should take before leaving for vacation

    June 01, 2022 by emily.bailey

    Wednesday, June 1, 2022

    Home Security Steps You Should Take Before Leaving for Vacation

    Don't let your home be vulnerable to intruders while you're away on summer vacation this year. Take these 5 home security steps before you leave.

     

     

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    ‘Tis the season for family vacations and getting away from the daily grind. Maybe you’ve been stuck at home for too long and you’re ready to just go … somewhere. If you're planning a summer vacation this year, take one more worry off your list by ensuring your home is as secure as possible.

     

    Most homes are targeted by a simple selection process. A burglar chooses a house with easy access, excellent cover and good escape routes, but they will usually bypass one that requires too much effort or poses a high risk. Here are six home security steps you should take before enjoying your relaxing retreat away from home.

    Dog sitting on suitcases before family leaves for vacation.
     

    1. Look active

    A key part of vacation safety is giving the impression that the home is occupied. Try some or all of these ideas for confusing thieves while you’re gone:

     

    • Install a smart lighting system that turns on and off at random intervals. You might also opt for motion sensor lighting near your home’s entry points. If you have a family member or friend taking care of pets or plants, ask them to turn different lights on and off throughout the home each time they visit. It’s the same effect of smart lighting but with a more manual approach. Leave blinds and curtains partially open so people can actually see lights turning on and off.

    • Create a “vacation” scene with your smart home hub. You could include locking the door, turning lights on and off, playing music occasionally and adjusting the thermostat. Not only does it make others think you’re still there, but it can help conserve energy and money as well by not leaving them on the entire time.

    • Ask the post office to hold your mail until you return or have a friend or family members pick it up for you. A pile of mail and newspapers on the front porch is a giveaway that the house is vacant. Pause your meal delivery services and other regular drop-offs, too.

    • Arrange for someone – a friend or lawncare service – to maintain the landscaping and cut the grass if you plan to be gone for an extended period of time.


    Bonus tip: Ask a neighbor to put some of their trash in front of your home on garbage night.

    2. Keep out of sight

    Hide valuables and other big-ticket items that would be tempting to intruders peeking through the windows. Stow away one-of-a-kind collectibles, laptops and other electronics in a drawer or closet. You probably can’t hide a television set, so consider leaving blinds and curtains closed for that room.

     

    Bonus tip: Remember outdoor valuables. Roll your grill into the shed or garage. The same goes for bikes. Also, kids’ toys that lay out in the yard and don’t move all week, while not particularly valuable, can be a giveaway that you’re gone.

    3. Smart locks

    Keyless electronic locks not only make your day-to-day more convenient but offer peace of mind when you're away. If you choose a smart lock, like the Schlage Encode Plus™ Smart WiFi Deadbolt, Schlage Encode™ Smart WiFi Deadbolt, Schlage Connect® Smart Deadbolt or Schlage Sense® Smart Deadbolt, you can check in remotely and make sure your doors are locked at all times. You can even manage unique user codes if someone needs access to your home while you're away.

     

    Bonus tip: Choose a smart lock with a built-in alarm that can notify you of a disturbance at the door, especially if you don’t already have a security system.

    4. Cameras

    If being able to check in and see what i’s happening at your home is important to you, consider installing a few WiFi-enabled security cameras. With remote capabilities, you can see any activity at your home no matter where you are in the world.

     

    Bonus tip: The Schlage Encode lock works with Ring Video Doorbell, so you can see who is at your door via the camera and unlock it remotely for trusted friends, family or service providers.

    5. Garage security

    Don't forget to secure your garage before you go. With a smart garage door opener and keyless technology on entry doors, you can be confident that the garage is not a weak spot for your home. Think how easy it would be for an intruder to pull into the garage, close the door and gain access to the rest of the house, then load their vehicles with your belongings without the neighbors ever seeing a thing.

     

    Bonus tip: If you have someone stopping by to housesit or water the plants while you’re gone, ask them to park in the driveway instead of the garage to make it more obvious someone’s around.

    6. Unexpected places for safety

    Stopping intruders is usually the leading security concern when we’re on vacation, but it’s not the only thing that affects safety. Now’s a good opportunity to conduct a quick version of your regular home security audit and make sure everything is working properly. You don’t want to come home to an unpleasant surprise, especially if it could have been avoided.

     

    Check for pipe leaks, test smoke and carbon monoxide detector batteries and make sure motion-activated cameras and lights are still positioned correctly. Unplug electronics like your television to help protect them in the event of a power surge during a storm while you’re gone, as well as save on energy. It’s best to leave most appliances like your refrigerator plugged in and at the usual temperature.

     

    Bonus tip: Make sure your windows are closed and locked securely, even on the upper floors. If you have sliding glass patio doors, install a blocking bar in the track for a bit of extra security.

    You know your own home is secure now. But what about where you’re going? Read up on these security questions to ask before booking a vacation rental.

     

    How to pair your Schlage smart lock with your new smart device.

    March 02, 2022 by emily.bailey

    Wednesday, March 2, 2022

    Schlage smart locks | Schlage

    So, you received a new smart home device? Here’s a list of resources to help you get connected with your Schlage smart lock quickly and easily.

     

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    We know a deadbolt might be a bit of a strange gift. But we also know it happens (and we thank you). More likely, perhaps, you got a new smart home hub like Samsung SmartThings, Wink, Apple HomePod® for the holidays. Maybe it’s a new voice control assistant like Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant that you want to sync with your Schlage smart lock. Could it be an Apple Watch®? Here’s a list of resources to help you get connected quickly and easily.

     

    Before you can sync your devices, make sure the lock is properly installed on your door and that you have the smartphone app that coincides with your hub and lock. You may need to create an account and complete some initial start-up steps via the app before pairing your devices. Find step-by-step interactive installation instructions for each of our smart locks online:

     

     

    Now let’s get connected.

    Schlage smart locks.

    Samsung SmartThings

    Why pair SmartThings with the Schlage Connect Smart Deadbolt?

     

    • Let in trusted friends and family or secure the deadbolt if you forgot by locking and unlocking your door from anywhere using the SmartThings app

    • Gain peace of mind by checking the status of your lock from your smartphone

    • Get app alerts when a user code is entered so you know who is coming and going from your home

    • More advanced features with the Schlage Connect lock with Z-Wave Plus

    To pair your Schlage Connect Smart Deadbolt with Samsung SmartThings, open the SmartThings app on your mobile device and tap on Home. Under Things, choose Add a Thing and follow the directions in the app. At the end of enrollment, a green light on your lock indicates success.

    Wink

    Why pair Wink with the Schlage Connect Smart Deadbolt - Z-Wave Plus?

     

    • Let in trusted friends and family or secure the deadbolt if you forgot by locking and unlocking your door from anywhere using the Wink app

    • Add and delete user codes at any time and from anywhere via the Wink app, like when you need to give access to a trusted friend while you’re stuck at work

    • Check the battery level via the Wink app

    • Create convenient shortcuts and more advanced features

    To sync your Schlage Connect Smart Deadbolt with Z-Wave Plus to your Wink hub, open the Wink app on your mobile device and follow the app’s instructions. When you have successfully connected your devices, you will see a flashing green check mark on the lock. The Wink app will also indicate that it has found the lock.

    Ring Video Doorbell

    Why pair Ring Video Doorbell with the Schlage Encode Smart WiFi Deadbolt?

     

    • See and speak to guests at your door and unlock the door for trusted friends and family with the Ring app

    • Check the status of your lock remotely and, if you forgot to secure the deadbolt before leaving home, lock it using the app on your phone

    • Set up your lock with the Key by Amazon App for additional access control to your Ring of Security, including cameras

    To sync your Schlage Encode Smart WiFi Deadbolt to your Ring Video Doorbell, download the Schlage Home, Ring and Key by Amazon apps to your smart phone and create accounts if needed. Follow the setup instructions in the Schlage Home app. Next, you’ll add the lock in the Ring App. From the dropdown menu, select Devices and tap on the + icon. You’ll then choose Locks and Connect via Key by Amazon and follow the remaining in-app instructions to complete setup.

    iPhone and Apple Watch

    The Schlage Sense Smart Deadbolt and Schlage Encode Plus Smart WiFi Deadbolt are both HomeKit™-enabled locks and compatible with a variety of Apple® devices through the Apple Home app. Why pair one of your Apple devices with the Schlage Sense lock or Schlage Encode Plus lock?

     

    • Lock/unlock your deadbolt from your iPhone or Apple Watch screen in the Apple Home app

    • Use Siri voice control to operate and check the status of your lock when near the lock

    • For the Schlage Encode Plus deadbolt, create and manage always-on access codes in the Apple Home app

    The Schlage Encode Plus Smart WiFi Deadbolt also supports Apple home keys for iPhone and Apple Watch. Why pair home keys with the Schlage Encode Plus lock?

     

    • Simply tap to lock and unlock the door using Apple home keys, stored in your Apple Wallet, on your iPhone or Apple Watch for easy and secure access to your home

    • Express mode for home keys offers the ability to use your iPhone or Apple Watch as your key without the need for authentication for quick unlock access

    There are a few ways to set up your devices to control your Schlage Encode Plus Smart WiFi Deadbolt with Apple home keys via your Apple Watch or iPhone.

    Setting up the Schlage Encode Plus deadbolt in Apple Home app

    If your Schlage Encode Plus deadbolt is already set up with the Schlage Home app, you’ll next need to pair it with HomeKit. From the Schlage Home app, select Works With from the dropdown menu and add HomeKit. Follow the instructions in the app. When it asks you to Add Accessory, you can tap your phone to the interior side of the lock on the HomeKit label or manually type in the HomeKit setup code found on the inside of the lock’s interior. Once the lock has been found and paired with HomeKit, select Yes when it asks if you want to use home keys. It will then ask if you want to use Express Mode. This mode allows you to unlock doors by holding your iOS device near the lock without first authenticating your iPhone or Watch with face or touch ID. You can choose to enable or disable Express Mode. Complete the setup process by following the final steps in the Schlage Home app.

     

    If you choose to control your Schlage Encode Plus deadbolt using the Apple Home app only, open the Apple Home app on your phone and choose Add Accessory. Locate the HomeKit setup label on the inside of the interior portion of the lock and tap your phone to that label. Alternatively, you can manually enter the HomeKit setup code shown on the label. When prompted, select Add to Home. Put the lock into pairing mode by pressing the black button on the inside of the lock’s interior. When the blue light flashes slowly, tap your phone to the lock to pair or choose to enter the HomeKit setup code manually. From here, you can follow the steps provided in the app.

    Setting up the Schlage Sense deadbolt in Apple Home app

    Open the Apple Home app on your iPhone and choose Add Accessory. Locate the HomeKit setup label on the inside of the interior portion of the lock or Quick Start Guide and scan the HomeKit QR code. Alternatively, you can manually enter the HomeKit setup code shown on the label. When prompted, select Add to Home.

     

    If setting up from the Schlage Home app after using the guided interactive instructions, choose “Continue with HomeKit.” Once you’ve chosen the “Continue with HomeKit” option, follow the instructions provided in the Schlage Home app.

    Apple TV®, iPad® or HomePod

    The Schlage Sense Smart Deadbolt and Schlage Encode Plus Smart Deadbolt are also compatible with a variety of Apple devices, including Apple TV, iPad and HomePod via HomeKit, which allow a more options for access control and home automation. Why pair one of these Apple home hub devices with the Schlage Sense lock or Schlage Encode Plus lock in your Apple Home app?

     

    • Lock/unlock and check status of your lock remotely, which can give greater convenience and security

    • Allow your lock to work in tandem with other Apple HomeKit™-enabled devices in your home through the Apple Home app

    • For the Schlage Encode Plus deadbolt, remotely create and manage always-on access codes in the Apple Home app

    • Create automations that allow your lock to work with other Apple HomeKit-enabled devices in your home

    • Use Siri® to lock and unlock your door for hands-free convenience remotely

    • Receive notifications from the Apple Home app when the lock is used so you know who is coming and going from your home

    Here is a guide to setting up remote connectivity with Apple HomeKit using a compatible Apple TV, iPad or HomePod.

    Voice Assistants

    Don’t forget that you can use voice assistants with your smart deadbolts, too. In most cases, you’ll need to use one of the smart hubs above to take advantage of the compatibility between your lock and Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant or Siri.

    Amazon Alexa

    Because of its built-in WiFi, you don’t need a smart hub to connect your Schlage Encode Smart WiFi Deadbolt or Schlage Encode Plus Smart WiFi Deadbolt with an Alexa-enabled device. To start using your Schlage Encode locks with Alexa, access the Alexa app on your smartphone, choose the Schlage Home skill and follow the instructions in the app.

     

    If you have the Schlage Sense Smart Deadbolt, all you need is the Schlage Sense WiFi Adapter to use Alexa. Find instructions here.

     

    If you have the Schlage Connect Smart Deadbolt with Zigbee technology, you’ll need Key by Amazon, Echo Plus or Samsung SmartThings. Use the links below for instructions on how to connect your Schlage Connect deadbolt with Zigbee to Alexa.

     

    Samsung SmartThings and Wink are also compatible with the Schlage Connect Deadbolt with Z-Wave Plus technology. Use the links below for instructions on how to connect your Schlage Connect deadbolt with Z-Wave Plus to Alexa.

     

    Google Assistant

    To pair Google Assistant with your Schlage Encode Smart WiFi Deadbolt or Schlage Encode Plus Smart WiFi Deadbolt, follow these instructions.

     

    If you’re a Google Assistant user and have the Schlage Sense deadbolt, make sure you have the Schlage Sense WiFi Adapter to take advantage of voice control capabilities. Find instructions here.

    Siri

    To use Siri to control your Schlage Sense Smart Deadbolt or Schlage Encode Plus Smart WiFi Deadbolt, follow these instructions. You can also learn which Apple devices support “Hey Siri” here.

    If you’re still considering which lock is right for you, try our Get Help Deciding Tool. You can also learn more about all of Schlage’s smart locks and find additional partners like Leviton that help you get the most from your deadbolt every day at Schlage.com.

     

    What is a mobile wallet and should you trust one?

    March 02, 2022 by emily.bailey

    Friday, March 4, 2022

    Mobile wallet | Schlage

    Mobile wallets are making financial transactions and keeping track of credentials easier, quicker and more convenient. But what are they? And how can you use them?

     

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    Stop wasting time doing unexciting things. As much as it feels like our lives are speeding up, we wouldn’t complain if we could get through everyday mundane tasks a little quicker. By taking advantage of technology like mobile wallets, you can do that. Spend less time standing in the checkout line, digging around in your bag for an ID or trying to track down your transit pass and more time enjoying what you bought and the friend you’re traveling to see.

     

    If you aren’t using a mobile wallet like Apple Pay or Google Pay yet, chances are that you’ve seen someone else wave their phone near the card scanner, grab their bags and go. Or someone paid for their share of the check by saying, “I’ll Venmo you the money.” Mobile wallets are making financial transactions and keeping track of credentials easier, quicker and more convenient. But what are they? And how can you use them?

    Apple pay mobile wallet.

    What is a mobile wallet?

    In the simplest terms, a mobile wallet is the digital version of carrying everything you have in your physical wallet or pocketbook. Instead of a bunch of plastic credit and debit cards, the information you need to pay for in-store or online purchases is kept virtually in your mobile wallet. The same goes for loyalty cards, some identification cards and more.

     

    When this information is stored in your mobile wallet, you can then use your smartphone or compatible smart watch to make payments, show an ID or ticket, unlock a door or automatically link to those store rewards. The benefits of a mobile wallet include convenience, safety through touchless transactions and increased security.

     

    If you’ve ever gotten to a store and realized you forgot your wallet or don’t have the credit card you need, that problem is taken care of with mobile wallet. With everything you need to pay right on your phone, there’s no more searching your bag or making embarrassing apologies for holding up the line. Just tap your device with the mobile wallet to the store’s reader and you’re set.

     

    More stores and shoppers began to adopt mobile wallets for touchless pay during COVID-19. With no need for you to touch the store’s credit card reader or transfer a card or cash to the employee, risk of transmitting germs was reduced. And as for increased security? Keep reading.

    iPhone using apple home keys from mobile wallet

    Are mobile wallets safe?

    No matter where you keep your credit cards, you need them to be safe. The last thing you want is for the card or any of its information to fall into the wrong hands. The same goes for keys and other credentials. So you’re probably wondering how safe mobile wallets actually are? How much can you trust a mobile wallet to protect your personal information?

     

    To answer that, let’s start with how mobile wallets work. According to Clearview Federal Credit Union, mobile wallets use Device Account Numbers, or DANs, instead of your actual credit card or account numbers to make payments. After you enter your card or account information to the mobile wallet app, that information is encrypted. It’s the encrypted information – the DAN – that is used for transactions. This is important for security because if your phone or watch is lost or stolen, the finder has only the encrypted information, which is essentially useless to them without your biometric authentication or passcode. The encryption means they will not have direct access to your account.

     

    By comparison, if your physical credit card or credential is lost or stolen, there is little to deter someone else from using that information to make unauthorized purchases or otherwise impersonate you. It’s similar to why we at Schlage love keyless security for your home. Without physical keys to carry or share with someone like the babysitter or dog walker, you’re limiting the risk that those keys will go missing. Instead, by relying on smart lock access codes, you have greater control over who can enter your home, not to mention increased ability to monitor that access through smartphone apps.

     

    Authentication features like face ID or touch ID on your smart device also provide an additional layer of security to protect your personal and financial information. Before completing a mobile purchase at the store, you often have to prove your identity before the mobile wallet will complete the transaction. Again, that simply isn’t the case with a physical card or key.

     

    As with anything, of course, it’s best for you to also maintain secure personal practices. Don’t share your authentication code with others. Follow best practices to create strong access codes and PINs, taking special care to choose ones that can’t be easily guessed. And just as you wouldn’t hide a physical key in one of those obvious fake rocks, make sure you properly store your smart devices or take then with you when they’re not in use. Don’t leave them on the coffee shop table, even for a minute, or leave them in plain view in your car.

    Jogger using Apple Watch Home Keys on Schlage Encode Plus

    What else can you store in a mobile wallet?

    When we think of “wallets,” our minds often go first to money. But what else is in your physical wallet? There probably are plenty of other cards – IDs and licenses, store loyalty cards, bus passes – and scraps of paper like receipts, too.

     

    A mobile wallet isn’t much different. When using an app like Apple Wallet, you can store credit card information as well as boarding passes for your next flight, bus or subway passes, tickets for that concert or sporting event, in the mobile wallet.

     

    Again, loyalty cards can often be uploaded as well as some identification cards. Allegion, parent company of Schlage, helped make it possible for the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, to launch contactless student IDs in Apple Wallet in 2019. The groundbreaking innovation enhanced credential security on campus. Even if a phone was lost, students’ IDs, which were required to enter buildings, couldn’t be unlocked by someone other than the intended user. That means access to buildings like dorms was limited only to those with proper permissions.

     

    Increasingly, keys can also be stored in your mobile wallet. With Apple Wallet, you may be able to keep your hotel key – skipping the lobby check-in process – or your car key. When you have the Schlage Encode Plus™ Smart WiFi Deadbolt, you can also pair the lock with your Wallet app to take advantage of home keys. This allows you to tap to unlock and securely and conveniently access your home without using a physical key. Just like when paying for your groceries, you tap your iPhone or Apple Watch to use what’s stored in your Wallet. And with the lock, that means easily entering your home, even when your hands are full of those groceries or they’re free because you left your keys in the entryway when you went for a run.

    Schlage Encode Plus Homekit, home keys lock.

    Learn more about the new Schlage Encode Plus Smart WiFi Deadbolt and how you can use it with Apple home keys, adding more security and convenience to your everyday life.

     

    Retrofit your home for energy efficiency with smarter lighting.

    January 19, 2022 by emily.bailey

    Wednesday, January 19, 2022

    Energy efficient lighting | Schlage

    With these lighting efficiency tips, you can upgrade your home easily to run more sustainably, save money and even make it safer.

     

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    You want to make your home more energy efficient, but how? If solar panels, geothermal heating and passive houses are expensive and a bigger commitment than you want to make right now, the answer is lighting. With these lighting efficiency tips, you can upgrade your home easily to run more sustainably, save money and even make it safer.
    Changing lightbulb in pendant light.

    How lighting makes your home safer

    We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: A home that looks occupied is safer from intruders than one that looks vacant. One of the best ways to make your home look lived in is by keeping it illuminated.

     

    • Leave lights on or set them on a timer before you leave the house.

    • Make sure your porch is well-lit. Dark corners make excellent hiding spots for intruders.

    • Motion-activated lighting, especially outside near garage doors, gates or pools, can make intruders think they’ve been spotted, causing them to move out of the area.

     

    It’s not just about security, though. Good lighting can also improve personal health and safety.

     

    • Include lighting on walkways or near steps to reduce the risk of falls.

    • Install strip lighting along hallways or on stair risers to illuminate a path to the bathroom or an exit.

    • Use plug-in nightlights in children’s bedrooms or a bathroom. Any midnight trips will be safely illuminated without being temporarily blinded by turning on overhead lighting.

    • Choose smart lights or plug a lamp into a smart outlet so you can connect them to a voice assistant. In the event of a fall or other emergency where you or a loved one are unable to reach the light, “Alexa, turn on bedside lamp” could be important.
    Modern home exterior lighting at night

    How to live more sustainably with the right lighting

    Of course, all this lighting takes energy. If you’re concerned about CO2 emissions and improving your home’s energy efficiency for cost and environmental savings, the idea of leaving lights on the entire time you’re on vacation probably doesn’t sound appealing. The good news is that you can use lighting for home security without overdrawing from the energy grid.

    Different kinds of light bulbs on wooden background

    Choose the right bulbs

    For most single-family homes, you have three light bulb options: incandescents, LED and CFL. If you’ve been doing your sustainability homework, you already know that outdated incandescent light bulbs are the biggest energy vampires of the three. A 60-watt incandescent bulb uses, well, 60 watts of energy. The CFL equivalent of the same bulb uses just 14 watts, and the LED equivalent a mere 8.5 watts. That’s a decrease of almost 86% in energy use.

     

    LED and CFL bulbs have another advantage over incandescents: longer lifespan. According to Eartheasy, you would need an estimated 21 incandescent light bulbs for 25,000 hours of use (the equivalent of leaving the light on, non-stop, for almost three years). You can light your home for the same length of time using only 2.5 CFL bulbs and just 1 LED bulb. That translates to less trash in the landfill.

     

    Even though these numbers give LEDs and CFLs the clear win in terms of sustainability, you might be asking about financial cost. It’s true that they’re more expensive up front. However, when you consider how much less energy they require and the lower frequency of replacement, you’ll likely still come out ahead. Eartheasy has a great breakdown of the costs and savings over time for various lightbulbs.

    Front porch steps lighting.

    Control your lighting

    Once you have the right bulbs, you can improve your energy efficiency even more with the right lighting controls. One option for making your lighting more energy efficient is to use dimmer switches. We often think of dimmers for setting mood lighting, reducing the brightness. But dimming the lights also means they’re using less energy. Install a dimmer for greater control, using only the amount of light – and energy – you need.

     

    A second option is to use motion sensors with your lights. These are most common outside your home, near your doors or garage. Like we said at the beginning, this can deter intruders by making them think they’ve been spotted. And because they’ll only switch on when triggered, they aren’t using energy when not needed.

     

    Finally, and we include this because we hear our dad’s voice in our inner mind, you can go the old-fashioned route and be more mindful of your own daily habits. Remember to turn lights off when you leave the room. Open the curtains or blinds and use natural lighting as much as possible. Install mirrors strategically so that they bounce light around the room and give the illusion of more brightness. And if you’re at your desk, work bench or reading in your favorite armchair, consider tabletop lighting that illuminates only what you need to see rather than the entire room.

    Smart lighting controlled by smartphone

    Make lighting a part of your smart home

    Much like adding extra controls to your lighting can reduce energy use, so can making your lights part of your smart home automation. Including lighting in your smart routines is kind of like putting them on one of those first-generation timer plugs only much more sophisticated. For example, if you have an Evening Routine, schedule your lamps to automatically switch off at a certain time. That way, you won’t be burning through energy even if you forgot to turn something off before going to bed.

     

    Look for smart devices that work together to make this as seamless and simple as possible. With the Leviton Decora Smart® Wi-Fi® lighting control line, you can pair lighting with the Schlage Encode™ Smart WiFi Deadbolt so that when you lock the door, the lights turn off at the same time. You can also set it up so that locking your Schlage Encode deadbolt activates Leviton’s Away Mode. The simple act of securing your door triggers your lighting to turn on and off randomly, making your home look occupied, until you return and put your system back in Home Mode.

    When retrofitting your home for energy efficiency, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. How do you even get started if you want to make your home more sustainable? It’s best to take it in stages, changing minor habits you know you can maintain without major inconvenience and cost. Lighting is a great first step. When you’re ready for more, check out our tips for fixing drafty doors and other energy efficient DIYs.

     

    4 simple ways to retrofit your home for energy efficiency.

    January 14, 2022 by emily.bailey

    Friday, January 14, 2022

    Retrofit your home for energy efficiency | Schlage

    These four tips are just a few ways you can make your home more environmentally friendly.

     

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    When building a new house, the blank slate often means it’s easier to make sustainability a high priority. You can choose eco-friendly materials and design your layout to work with nature from the start. But what about when you’re retrofitting your current home? These four tips are just a few ways you can make your home more environmentally friendly.
    Smart thermostat in mid-century modern home.

    1. Maintain or upgrade major appliances

    Major appliances – refrigerators, stoves, washers and dryers – can put massive amounts of stress on the electric grid. Not only are the large, often requiring a lot of power to function, but some may be on all the time. Your fridge doesn’t just quit working (thankfully) because you aren’t actively cooking.

    Upgrade your appliances to newer versions. Even if they aren’t a high-end, super-efficient appliance, one made in the last few years will still run more efficiently than one from the 1980s. You don’t need to replace all the appliances at once, either. If your budget means you have to gradually upgrade over time, prioritize the oldest appliances or those that get the most use and are more likely to wear down quickly.

     

    All appliances – new and old – should be maintained properly to keep them running efficiently.

    Refrigerator

    Remove dust from the coils – yes, that means pulling it away from the wall – especially if you have pets where hair and more grime can collect, causing your fridge to run less efficiently. Check the door’s seal. If a piece of paper closed in the door pulls out easily, it’s time to replace the gasket. Set your refrigerator’s temperature to 40 degrees Fahrenheit. This is sufficient to keep your food safe, according to the FDA, and will help reduce energy use. Need other ideas? Turn off the automatic ice maker, place the fridge in a cool space away from heat sources like the stove and keep it organized so you can find things more quickly without leaving the door open.

    Dishwasher

    Good Housekeeping has some excellent tips for keeping your dishwasher clean, because if it’s gross, your dishes will be too, and then you’ll be stuck wasting more energy and water washing everything again by hand. In short, gently scrub the rubber seal around the door, wash the filter beneath the spray arm and, every once in a while, give it a thorough cleaning with vinegar and baking soda.

    Oven, stove and range

    Those food crumbs, drips and splatters on the inside of your oven, on your cooktop and under the range hood are more than just a little bit disgusting. They also keep your appliances from working efficiently. The oven won’t heat as quickly, and your range hood can’t ventilate properly with dirt and grime in the way.

    Washing machine

    Because the most energy-efficient washers typically only use warm or cold water, you may find you get more residue and mildew buildup around your washer’s interior and rubber seals. Be diligent about cleaning it to keep the machine in good working condition, maintaining its efficiency.

    Dryer

    Clean the lint trap and air vents regularly. This improves air circulation so your clothes dry faster. As an added bonus, it can also cut down on fire risk. You’ll also want to clean the moisture sensors so that they can accurately determine when a load is dry, signaling the machine to turn off.

     

    Smart appliances can help make your home more energy efficient. ENERGY STAR, for example, points out that a smart refrigerator can send you an alert if the door is left open or lets you look inside without opening the door, perfect for when you can’t decide on a snack or just need to see if you need to buy more eggs.

     

    If you’d rather not connect your appliances to the Internet of Things (IoT), or if you aren’t able to upgrade to a smart appliance just yet, go the old-fashioned route and be more energy efficient by modifying your habits. Run your dishwasher and do laundry at times when your electricity rates are lowest. This puts less strain on the grid and your wallet. Air dry your clothes when you can. And never run a load of wash – clothes or dishes – unless it’s full.

    Modern kitchen with two toned cabinets, stainless steel appliances and herringbone backsplash.

    2. Rethink your water heater

    Think of all the times you need hot water. Showering, washing your hands, cooking, cleaning the house all require at least warm water, and heating it up can be an energy suck. To make an existing water heater more efficient, start by turning down the thermostat. The default temperature of about 130 degrees Fahrenheit is too hot for skin anyway. Reducing it just 10 degrees can conserve unexpectedly high amounts of energy and money.

    Also consider insulating your water tank and pipes to reduce heat loss before it even reaches the faucet. And keep an eye on sediment buildup at the bottom of your tank. Especially if your area has hard water, you’ll get crystallized minerals that slow down the water heater and undermine its efficiency.

     

    If you’re looking to upgrade to a more efficient water heater, you have lots of options. First look for ENERGY STAR ratings as ENERGY STAR-certified water heaters can use 50% less energy than other models. Also, you might want a tankless water heater. These tend to be more energy efficient because they only warm up the water you need, when you need it. Other, more traditional models spend a lot of energy heating water and keeping it warm until you’re ready for it.

     

    Whatever kind of water heater you decide on, make sure it’s the right size for your home. Too large and you’re using energy unnecessarily. Too small, and you’ll make the water heater work overtime, which isn’t good for the appliance or the electric grid, either.

     

    Looking for more of those old-fashioned solutions? Switch your washing machine from hot water to warm or even cold, which can reduce energy consumption by about half. Take shorter showers and turn the faucet off when you aren’t using it, like when loading the dishwasher.

    Baby getting a bath in the kitchen sink.

    3. Help your HVAC work smarter, not harder

    In the typical American household, heating and cooling a space makes up 40-50% of the home’s energy use with most of that going toward heating. The first and easiest step toward reducing that energy use is with good maintenance. Change the filter in your HVAC system about every three months. Also, learn the signs of a failing or inefficient system. These include strange smells when it turns on, little air or the not right kind of air – cold air when you have the heat on and vice versa – blowing from the vents, excessive running time and fluid leaks around the unit.

    If you’re looking to upgrade your HVAC system, consider a multi-stage system. Unlike single-stage systems that run at full capacity all the time, multi-stage systems vary their output. They might still be operating at full capacity during the hottest and coldest days of the year, but in between? They’re conserving energy.

     

    You’ll also want to pay attention to Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) ratings when looking for a new heating system. For the best efficiency, look for units with ratings in the 80s and 90s, meaning they convert 80 to 90 percent of the fuel they use into heat.

     

    The best cooling systems vary widely depending on how big your home is and your region’s climate. Regardless, look for cooling systems with a Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating (SEER) of at least 13.

    HVAC

    4. Know when to unplug small electronics

    Small electronics have become so common in our lives, we’ve essentially become blind to them. When you’re done charging your phone overnight, do you unplug the charger from the wall or just leave it until the next evening? Do you unplug your TV when you aren’t watching it or your laptop when you’ve finished reading emails?

    It’s best to unplug devices when not in use so they aren’t drawing what’s commonly referred to as phantom energy. But let’s be honest. Sometimes that’s just inconvenient. In these situations, plug the electronics into a power strip so that you can easily turn them on and off with a single switch.

     

    You can also try a smart power strip. This term can mean a lot of things, including being WiFi-enabled so that you can control the devices remotely from your phone. But what we’re talking about here is smart surge protectors with automatic current-sensing technology. These have a “control” socket so that whenever the device plugged into that main outlet is turned off, other devices plugged into the strip will enter a kind of sleep mode. In other words, turn off your TV and your speakers and gaming system are also powered down. This is also great for the home office.

    Home office with bookcase desk lamp and laptop.

    Preventing air leaks and improving insulation are two frequently tackled home improvement projects of the environmentally conscious. Learn how to check your insulation and fix drafty windows and doors at the Schlage blog.

     

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